How to Prune Rose Bushes in Winter


With their delicate blooms and sweet fragrance, rose bushes are a key to creating a vibrant and beautiful garden and outdoor landscape. Use them along an outdoor garden wall or fence line to create a focal point to your yard. Mix them in with your favorite herbs or plant creeping roses along a pergola for a lush and exotic outdoor structure. Pruning and trimming back your roses is essential in keeping them hardy. Use the wintertime, when the plant is bare to remove any weak or dead stems. This will prepare the roses for stunning and healthy summer blooms.

Step 1

Wait until the roses have undergone a major frost and most leaves have fallen off the bush. Roses don't undergo a complete dormancy but they gear into a slow-growth mode, the perfect time to begin pruning.

Step 2

Remove all old debris such as grass and leaves around the rose base. Insects and disease hide within this moist environment so it's key to remove all debris to ensure they don't affect the rose bush.

Step 3

Remove dead branches that are diseased and damaged by removing the entire stem. Cut down and remove all old and twisted branches. Open up the rose bush by removing any branches that cross over the main center stem.

Step 4

Prune all thin and weak branches that are pencil-sized or smaller to free up nutrients for the central stem, and to allow more light to shoot in. Remove any branches that cross or rub each other.

Step 5

Cut away green saplings and shoot that grow off the main stem. Remove all suckers, or shoots that grow up from the root of the roses busy, as soon as they become noticeable.

Step 6

Cut above each leaf bud that points toward the outside of the rose bush. Prune to a healthy bud and make sure the cut is at a 45-degree angle. Use sharp pruning shears to prevent jagged cuts and to decrease the susceptibility of the rose bush becoming infected with disease.

Step 7

Paint the open wound with sealing compound to prevent any disease from infecting the roses.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sealing compound


  • University of Illinois Extension

Who Can Help

  • My Home Ideas
Keywords: pruning roses, winter pruning, cutting back roses

About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.